Mid-Day.com, Updated: April 27, 2011 14:37 IST
While politicians, celebrities and other prominent figures flocked to Puttaparthi to pay their last respects to the late Sathya Sai Baba, the presence of Swami Nithyananda at the ashram raised quite a few eyebrows.
Nithyananda's dazed devotees and Sathya Sai Baba's family members alike.
Throughout the time he was there, he appeared to be embarrassed as devotees and Sathya Sai Baba's family members made it clear that he was not welcome.
With the negative publicity the self-proclaimed godman has garnered over the past one year, it comes as no surprise that he was not allowed inside immediately.
Onlookers gaped when the Baba's family members ignored his presence and later made efforts to see to it that he wasn't allowed into Sai Kulwanth Hall through the VVIP entrance.
"It seemed like Baba's family members and the security guards at the VVIP entrance were not at all prepared for something like this," said a guest who was seated with the family members near Baba's mortal remains.
While Swami Nithyananda patiently waited at the VVIP entrance with one of his disciples, Baba's family members had a quick word with the other guests and decided to allow him to enter from the common gate
He added, "Nithyananda looked a bit embarrassed, as he stood at the entrance for quite some time with a garland in his hand, but his presence wasn't even acknowledged."
While Nithyananda patiently waited at the entrance with one of his disciples, the family members had a quick word with the other VVIPs seated there, including Major Industries Minister Geetha Reddy, and decided to allow him to enter.
However, they decided against allowing him through the VVIP entrance, and he was observed entering through the common gate and reached the glass casket where Baba's mortal remains were laid.
Another guest who observed the entire incident and was within earshot of the conversation said, "He even pleaded with the family members to allow him to enter through the VVIP entrance, but they did not agree."
Miffed at the whole incident, he still managed to flaunt a broad smile while standing in the queue, albeit a shorter one.
Upon reaching the casket, he bowed down his head and offered prayers. However, the drama intensified when he placed the huge garland around the glass casket, and the crowd around glared and let out a collective sigh.
Even the volunteers from the Sathya Sai trust stopped urging the crowds to move faster and looked at the drama that was unfolding bit by bit.
Trying to escape the constant stares from everyone, Nithyananda quickly moved behind the life size photo of Baba, which is placed next to the casket, and attempted to exit from the hall through the VIP entrance.
Sadly for him, he was once again stopped and told to take the route that other devotees were taking.
A frowning Nithyananda made a swift exit. Although he did not stay for long, his brief visit became the most talked about incident for the rest of the day.
Source: NDTV, Mid Day News